Two eminent lawyers, Professor Itsay Sagay (SAN) and Femi Falana (SAN) have advocated for 13 per cent derivation for Lagos State on the revenue accrued to Federal Government from ports situated in the State, saying provision of such benefit would better development the State.
The duo gave the charge as guest lecturers at a special parliamentary session to mark the 1st anniversary of the present Lagos State House of Assembly at Alausa, Lagos recently.
Sagay stated that since there are states that get 13 percent derivation from oil revenue, the current practice where federal government collects total revenue from states that own ports should be discarded.
Sagay stated that in a federal system of government, Lagos State should control the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, and that even if they are controlled by the Federal Government, the state should get 13% derivation.
According to him, “Lagos is the most vigorous defender of Nigerian federalism” through its doggedness to fight on behalf of other states to claim certain rights.
Citing examples of such approach, Sagay stated that when some states created local governments during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the 1999 constitution provided, it was only Lagos that stood its ground to operate the created councils.
He also identified the leadership role played by the state on the move by the federal government to collect tax on properties, saying it was Lagos State that went to court to challenge the decision which it won.
He pointed out that the current political imbalances in the Nigerian federalism have been responsible for various problems plaguing the country, adding that the military regime had bastardized the constitution by foisting a unitary system of government on the country.
“Nigeria has deviated from an ideal federalism because of over-centralization of power. It is wrong to centralise institutions such as Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria Police Council, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was right to have said that Nigeria is not a nation, but that it is a mere geographical expression.
“There should be respect for nationalities and the basis of our association should be explained. Under the regional government, the region keeps 50% of its resources, gives 20% to the central government and the remaining 30% is sent to the pool, which would be shared by the state,” he said.
According to him, each region had its own coat of arms, constitution and motto, but that the independence and autonomy of the regions were destroyed by the military in 1966.
Sagay stated that the arrogation of power to the central government got to the peak during the era of the late General Sanni Abacha as head of state.
He submitted that Nigeria is the only federal republic without a state police, and that apart from states, local governments and even schools should have their own police.
The lawyer berated the states in Nigeria for what he termed over-dependence on federal government, while stressing that the unitary system of government being operated in Nigeria is stifling the states.
Also speaking the second guest speaker, Femi Falana, who added that the local government in Nigeria is a bastardisation of federalism.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.